‘Is John Horgan B.C.’s premier now?’ And other questions, answered

Is John Horgan B.C.’s premier now?

That’s only one question that British Columbians are asking after the BC NDP and the Green Party announced an agreement that could topple the current government led by Premier Christy Clark.

NDP Leader John Horgan and Green Leader Andrew Weaver have stopped short of banding together to form a majority coalition government; instead, the three Green MLAs have agreed to vote in support of an NDP government.

B.C. Greens and NDP strike deal for ‘stable’ minority government

They’ve come together in what’s known as a “supply and confidence agreement.” It means the Green party has agreed to support the NDP on supply bills, which includes matters that need to be passed in the legislature in order to keep the government running. That includes voting to accept the Throne Speech, or the provincial budget.

Other issues will be decided on a case-by-case basis.

The agreement would give the NDP (with 41 seats) and the Greens (3 seats) into a majority over the Liberals (43 seats.)

WATCH: BC Greens announce they will support NDP government

So what does that mean for government right now?

That depends on what Clark decides to do.

In a statement on Monday, she said she and her party have a responsibility to “carefully consider our next steps” before any announcement is made.

There are a few ways it could go from here:

1. Resignation

Liberal Leader Christy Clark


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Clark could resign, which would be the elegant thing to do, Maxwell Cameron, a political scientist at the University of British Columbia, told Global News.

“The graceful thing for the premier to do is resign, but it’s still very much up to her,” he said.

READ MORE: B.C. has a minority government, which rarely lasts long in Canada

If that happened, then Lt.-Gov. Judith Guichon would invite the leader of the next largest party (Horgan of the NDP) to form government.

2. Christy Clark tries to beat the agreement

Currently, Clark is still the incumbant premier, and she will remain so until “until the Liberals are defeated in the legislature,” Stephen Tweedale, a student at Simon Fraser University and political blogger, explained.

She could convene the legislature and make her Speech from the Throne, but then because of the other parties’ supply and confidence agreement, they would vote to reject the speech, which is technically a vote of non-confidence in the sitting government.

That would trigger its fall, and Clark would then be forced to resign as premier.

WATCH: What happens when B.C. elects a minority government?

The lieutenant-governor would then have a choice to send B.C. back to the polls or invite the leader of the next largest party to form government.

Why would Clark decide to make a Throne Speech?

If she believes the agreement between the Greens and the NDP isn’t strong enough to hold up, it’s possible the Greens could change their minds and vote to accept the Throne Speech.

“The agreement is absolutely critical,” Cameron said. “If it is clear, if there’s no question that the two parties have agreed on a set of policy commitments, and that they’re able to work together, that’s crucial.

“If it were an agreement that did not look credible, if it looked like there [could be] dissent … if there was even one member of either caucus that wasn’t convinced that this was the right thing to do, that would throw out the agreement.”



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3. Lieutenant Governor steps in

While the lieutenant-governor usually defers to the sitting premier, there’s a chance she might not.

“If the premier insists on a course of action that doesn’t seem credible, and there is a credible alternative in place, it’s also the prerogative of the lieutenant-governor to ask the premier to step down,” Cameron said.

READ MORE: Weaver says Greens will fight pipeline; calls Clark’s Liberals ‘reckless’

That only happens when the lieutenant–governor thinks the current government is acting recklessly or irresponsibly.

“Or in this case, the argument would be that this would be the wrong thing for the province,” Cameron said.